Result: Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle
Liverpool came back from a goal down to impressively beat Newcastle Utd and move up to fifth in the Premier League table in the final game of 2011 at Anfield on Friday night.
With Luis Suarez serving a one match ban for his gesture towards Fulham fans at Craven Cottage last month, Andy Carroll and Craig Bellamy started up front – facing their former club from the North East.
Jay Spearing returned after his three match ban, and Steven Gerrard started on the bench again.
Ryan Taylor’s cross from the left was flicked on by Yohan Cabaye with the final touch coming off Daniel Agger’s shoulder to give Newcastle a fortunate lead just after the half hour mark.
However, Liverpool struck back with immediate effect with a surging move forward down the right which resulted in the ball riccocheting around the visitors’ penalty area, before Charlie Adam slid the ball square to Craig Bellamy who’s shot found it’s way through a crowd of Newcastle players for the equaliser.
Newcastle had the better share of the game just after half-time, but it Liverpool patiently continued to make chances.
Andy Carroll should have done better on at least two occasions, before Agger won a free-kick about 35 yards from goal.
Bellamy stepped up and superbly struck a vicious shot on goal which found it’s way into the back of the net thanks to the distraction of Carroll, causing trouble in their goalmouth.
Bellamy was forced off late on with a bloody eye after being caught by Coloccini’s leading elbow – an incident which must surely be addressed by the FA in the aftermath of this game.
The second half introduction of captain Steven Gerrard lifted Anfield and the number 8 delivered Liverpool’s third, finishing expertly from an accute angle with 13 minutes left to play.
After a run of inconsistant form, Kenny Dalglish will be happy the Reds finished 2011 on top and, for at least 24 hours, are level on points with fourth place Chelsea.
The Reds now travel to Manchester City for a crunch game at Eastlands on Tuesday night (kick-off 8pm).
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Enrique, Skrtel, Agger, Adam (Gerrard 59), Henderson, Spearing, Downing, Carroll, Bellamy (Kuyt 74).
Subs not used: Doni, Maxi, Carragher, Shelvey, Kelly.
Newcastle: Krul, Coloccini, Simpson, Williamson, Taylor (Santon 46), Gutierrez, Tiote, Cabaye, Obertan (Ameobi 84), Ba, Vuckic (Ben Arfa 65).
Subs not used: Elliot, Best, Peech, Ameobi.